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COVID Con: The response is worse than the virus – May 2, 2020

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As the news media continues to whip people into frenzied masses and force governments into imposing irrational responses to the COVID-19 panic, here are some of the more extreme examples of how American liberties are being chipped away all in the name of promoting “safety.”

For the week of April 26 – May 2, 2020: (click on headlines for full story)

New Mexico uses 43-year-old Riot Control Act to prevent people from entering a city

No outsiders are allowed in Gallup, N.M., for the next three days. A major interstate, I-40 runs right through the city, but state police and National Guard are blocking the ramps. Because of COVID-19, no outsiders are allowed in for 72 hours. There is a curfew for Gallup residents from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m., and no more than two people are allowed in a car in the city. “We care about you. If we didn’t care we would just let it run it’s course, and you could attend as many funerals as you want,” said State Sen. George Munoz (D). When the order was issued by Gov. Lujan Grisham (D), 1.49% of the county’s 71,367 people had tested positive for the illness and 20 people had died.

Ottawa, Ontario, bans people from looking at relatives through windows of nursing homes

It had become a popular way for people to maintain contact with relatives sheltered in nursing homes, However, it will no longer be an option for families with loved ones in long-term care homes run by the City of Ottawa. In a memo this week, Dean Lett, director of long-term care for the city, asked families to stop visiting their loved ones at windows “to help ensure that physical distancing remains in place for all our residents.”

New York cancels its presidential primary election seven weeks early, but allows voting for other races

State election officials effectively canceled the presidential primary by removing every Democrat except the presumptive nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, from the primary ballot. “What the Sanders campaign wanted is essentially a beauty contest that, given the situation with the public health emergency, seems to be unnecessary and, indeed, frivolous,” said Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections. Ironically, voting will continue as planned for New Yorkers on June 23 for congressional and state-level races.

Maine prevents people from even making hotel or campground reservations until July

Governor Janet Mills (D) extended Maine’s stay-at-home order and laid out a gradual plan to re-open Maine’s economy. The first stage still prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people, and those who are entering or returning to Maine still must quarantine for 14 days. That means no cruise ships will be allowed until September. In Stage 3, scheduled to start July 1, some degree of opening will be allowed for lodging, such as hotels, campgrounds, summer camps, or RV parks for Maine residents and visitors. The administration is developing guidelines to assist them in safely reopening, and reservations should not be taken until those guidelines are issued. When the plans were announced, Maine had 1,056 cases of COVID-19 in the state of 1.3 million residents for an infection rate of 0.0786%. There were 53 deaths.

Texas uses undercover police to arrest women offering salon services in their homes

Two women were arrested in Laredo, Texas, after they were caught running a beauty salon inside their homes. The women were arrested during an undercover sting operation by the Laredo Police Department. After receiving an anonymous tip, police went on an undercover sting operation and arrested the women for offering beauty services from home. The cops were part of the COVID-19 task force enforcement detail.

Illinois releases 4,000 prisoners, including 146 sex offenders and 64 murderers to mitigate COVID-19

In order to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois prisons, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has granted clemency to more than 1,000 prisoners. Many had their sentences commuted or were granted medical furlough. Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite-Ross said that some inmates are being let out so quickly that she doesn’t have proper time to inform victims, as is required by the Rights of Crime Victim’s Act and the Illinois Constitution.

Georgia teens can get a drivers’ license without taking behind-the-wheel test

Georgia is now allowing people to get their drivers’ licenses without having to take a driving test during the coronavirus panic. Qualifying teenagers in the state just need their parents’ permission to get one. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) signed an executive order last week waiving the road test requirement for teens. “It allows the teen driver to go to that next phase without having to take that road test because of social distancing problems, obviously, in trying to provide the test,” said Spencer Moore, the commissioner at the Department of Driver Services.

Louisiana pastor placed on house arrest with ankle monitor for preaching

Rev. Tony Spell ministered to a crowd at his church while wearing an ankle monitor Sunday, April 26, despite being placed on house arrest. Spell was later issued six misdemeanor counts of disobeying the powers of the governor, after officials grew tired of trying to convince Spell to stop holding services.

Washington States bans all fishing, even by one person on a boat or from shore

Frustrated anglers in Washington protested by boat on a Seattle lake over the weekend, calling for the state to lift its ban on recreational fishing amid the coronavirus panic. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, requiring Washingtonians to stay at home unless out for an “essential activity” in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Soon after, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife temporarily banned all recreational fishing in the Evergreen State. However, boaters can still take their craft out on the water — but cannot cast lines to fish.

Michigan closes all state park campgrounds through June 21

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announcing all Michigan state parks campgrounds will be closed through at least June 21. Sanitation stations (or dump stations) are closed through at least June 21. All overnight lodging facilities and shelters are closed through at least June 21.

Child sex abuse reports rise 22% amid lockdown orders

By the end of March, with much of the country under lockdown, there was a 22% increase in monthly calls from people younger than 18, and half of all incoming contacts were from minors, according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Closing schools and canceling youth activities like sports removes children from the watchful eyes of “mandatory reporters” — those trusted adults, like teachers, nurses and child care providers, who are required by law in most states to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect.

New York City to offer 500,000 free Ramadan meals weeks after threatening to close churches, synagogues

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that the Big Apple will provide more than 500,000 “free” halal meals across the city. City officials plan to serve 10 million free meals to all New Yorkers in April and another 15 million in May, as De Blasio estimates that nearly 2 million people could go hungry because of the virus that has killed 17,000 people in the city. It was just a few weeks ago that de Blasio threatened to “permanently” close any Christian church that refused to completely shut down.

Mississippi mayor suspends open carry gun rights to “protect public health”

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (D) decided to issue an executive order suspending the open carry law during the COVID-19 civil emergency after several gun-related incidents. “In the space of just one week, two innocent children have lost their lives due to senseless gun violence. Many of these killings could have been avoided if we had state law that enabled us to better control the presence of firearms on our streets.” As more people face greater poverty following massive layoffs, resulting in more crime, citizens of Jackson will no longer be able to defend themselves, at least on city streets.

Coronavirus relief often pays workers more than they make working

Roughly half of all U.S. workers stand to earn more in unemployment benefits than they did at their jobs before the coronavirus pandemic shut down wide swaths of the U.S. economy, and employers say the government relief is complicating plans to reopen businesses, the Wall Street Journal reported. Qualified workers will receive the government payout every week through July, and in most cases, the combined $978 weekly payout amounts to better pay than what many workers received before the crisis hit. Labor Department statistics show half of full-time workers earned $957 or less a week in the first quarter of 2020.

Georgia requires reopened restaurants to keep log of every customer served

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced last week that he would relax restrictions, but issued 39 requirements that restaurants must follow, including observing a limit of 10 customers per 500 square feet and ensuring that all employees wear face coverings. A log with every customer’s first and last name and contact phone number must be maintained by the restaurant and kept for 30 days in case it’s needed for contact tracing. All employees must wear fabric face masks, and customers are encouraged to wear them unless eating.

CDC now recommends social distancing for pets

CDC guidelines now recommend people restrict their pets from interacting with other animals when outside their house and urge people to keep cats indoors when possible and to walk dogs on a leash while maintaining at least six feet from other people and animals. The CDC also calls for people to avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

Houston firefighters seeking free meal call fire marshal after cops seen eating together

John McAleer, owner of Buffalo Grille, told KPRC-TV that a Houston firefighter came to the establishment to order a free meal and told the manager that a group of police officers eating at a table outside needed to leave. The restaurant has given 50 percent discounts to first responders for years and was offering free meals until May 2 during the COVID-19 panic. When the manager refused to comply with the order, the firefighter came back with a fire marshal, who issued a violation notice.

Minneapolis closes parks because they were “built for congregating”

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will be closing all athletic fields, courts, playgrounds and skate parks by Friday, and plans to remove or block basketball rims, take down tennis and volleyball nets, and post closed signs for the soccer fields, playgrounds and skate parks. “The fact is that some park spaces have been built to provide for congregating,” said Board President Jono Cowgill. When the order was issued, the city of 405,403 people had 1,529 confirmed cases for an infection rate of 0.0036.

 

Here are some unique responses by business to their forced shutdowns:

Mayo Clinic lays off 42% of its workforce

While the media screams that hospitals are overloaded and at the brink of capacity from having to deal with the COVID-19 panic, one of the nation’s premier hospitals was forced to furlough staff. Mayo Clinic is furloughing or reducing the hours of about 42 percent of its 70,000 employees across all of its campuses in an attempt to mitigate the financial losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the clinic will pay for healthcare benefits of employees who lost their jobs.

Restaurants turn parking lots into drive-in movie theaters

What if it was possible to enjoy a good date with a loved one while still respecting the physical distancing guidelines put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19? With precisely that solution in mind—and amid a brutal economic downturn primarily slamming small businesses—restaurants across the United States have devised a novel solution that draws on American nostalgia, brings in paying clientele, while also offering a safe option for entertaining crowds.

Jet Blue becomes first airline to require all passengers to wear masks all the time

JetBlue was one of the first U.S. airlines to mandate crew to wear masks while working. And now, it’s the first to require the same from passengers. This new policy, which goes into effect on May 4, 2020, will be applied throughout all steps of the passenger journey — from check-in all the way through deplaning.

Masks, temperature checks mark ‘new normal’ at restaurants

With staff wearing masks, checking customers’ temperatures and using disposable paper place mats, some of the nation’s restaurants reopened for dine-in service Monday as states loosened more coronavirus restrictions. In Louisiana, restaurants will be allowed to seat people outside starting Friday, though without wait service at the tables. At Waffle House, booths will be closed to keep customers apart and traditional plastic placemat menus replaced by paper menus.

Little League World Series cancelled for first time in its history

Although Little League International is holding out hope that some games may be played this summer, the group already announced the cancellation of its World Series event for the first time since its founding in 1947. This year was supposed to be the 75th playing of the event. Officials said it would be “impossible” to hold the events amid ongoing restrictions on large gatherings and travel.

Airlines are dreaming up vast new inconveniences post-COVID

Whenever you’re ready to fly again, pack your patience along with your face mask because everything is going to take longer. New procedures being considered include:

  • Presenting documents confirming presence of COVID antibodies
  • Requiring passengers to arrive at least four hours ahead of their flight, and pass through a “disinfection tunnel” or thermal scanner to check their temperature before being allowed to enter the airport.
  • Passengers would undergo a health screening, and potentially even have their blood tested.
  • Passenger boarding by specific invitation only delivered via text message

 

Okay, this one isn’t COVD-19 related, but the timing of enacting a new administrative rule could fall under the heading of “never waste a good crisis.”

Canada gives gun owners two years to surrender 1,500 types of ‘assault’ weapons

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced a ban on some 1,500 makes and models of military-grade “assault-style” weapons in Canada, effective immediately. Starting today, licensed gun owners will no longer be allowed to sell, transport, import or use these sorts of weapons in this country. Trudeau said there will be a two-year amnesty period to allow people who already own these firearms to comply with the ban. Trudeau promised to pass legislation in the coming months to provide “fair compensation” to people who own these firearms. While he acknowledged that most firearms owners are law-abiding citizens, he said hunters don’t need this sort of firepower. “You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer,” he said.

But deer don’t have the ability to shut down your business, take away your job, release criminals from prison, prevent you from worshiping or protesting, and lock you inside your home wearing ankle monitors.

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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